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Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Candidate resources

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This idea has been suggested by Pharos during the Call for feedback about Community Board seats. If you want to suggest other ideas, please share them in the Call for feedback main Talk page.

To increase the quantity and diversity of volunteer candidates and leaders in the movement, we need to offer them better support. Examples of support for those interested in running for election could include:

  • organization of office hours
  • mentorship
  • leadership development.

Sometimes elections have had rather limited participation. Increasing diversity of candidates will make for greater diversity in actual officeholders. Both Wikimedia Foundation and community members could help with such a project, which should be part of a larger leadership-supporting ecosystem.

This idea would further the Movement Strategy recommendation Invest in Skills and Leadership Development.

Summary of ongoing feedback[edit]

The facilitation team keeps this section in sync with the main report.

Facilitators reported frequently that all participants in the discussions that followed agreed on the idea. In a panel session dedicated to this topic, everyone was in support of the idea. Some participants welcomed the idea as the least intrusive, less controversial of all, bringing less friction to both the Board and the community. The discussion quickly moved to implementation details about identifying target groups, encouraging potential candidates, organizing coaching programs, and providing logistical support during campaigns.

About encouraging volunteers to consider and assess themselves as potential candidates:

  • Provide an opportunity for volunteers to encourage others to run for the Board:
    • Task a team to actively search for and invite volunteers with the potential to run for the Board.
  • Make the Board’s regular work more accessible, so that potential candidates better understand the Board’s workload:
    • Run at least partially open Board meetings and host open sessions.
    • Release minutes in a timely manner
  • Provide up-to-date information on the Board’s duties
    • Review and update the Wikimedia Board manual
  • Provide up-to-date and clear information on the nomination and election process
  • Provide a possibility for potential candidates to assess themselves before they run for election
    • There have been several mentions about a questionnaire to assess oneself on necessary and desired skills, available time, and other criteria to be aware of before deciding to run for a Board seat.

About coaching potential candidates:

  • Most participants agreed on a program to offer coaching and training to potential candidates. It has been said that mentoring/coaching support is the most important resource to provide to candidates.
  • Some participants proposed to make such a program available to the general movement and not only to potential Board candidates.
  • A few former trustees said that systematic and organized governance training should be available to any member of the movement, not only Board candidates, as governance skills are beneficial for the movement in general.
  • While mostly an approach of coaching and training ahead of elections was discussed, a few suggested considering coaching and training for members of the Board after being elected as well.
  • A few participants said that such support might be especially helpful for potential candidates from underrepresented groups.
  • A former trustee recommended inviting parts of the community to imagine how to best support this goal.
  • Some said that it was important to have equal availability of support for everyone, and that individual support should be avoided to avoid discrimination.
  • Mentorship has been discussed occasionally. One former trustee suggested pairing people with past Board members.

About campaigning support:

  • Some volunteers considered video formats to present candidates in interviews, organized debates or a group discussion among candidates. It was pointed out that this might help to reach out to younger voters and voters who have difficulty reading long texts. To support all candidates equally it was suggested to make that happen in the candidate’s own language, translating it afterward.

About financial support:

  • Some volunteers discussed remunerations for board members and the feedback was mixed. It was argued that a decent payment might help to encourage a really diverse group of people.
  • There was mixed feedback by a few that it undermines the moral dimension of the movement. One person found it to be corrosive and especially unfair to non-Board volunteers in socioeconomically weaker countries.
  • A proposal of reimbursements was supported by some to overcome obstacles for trustees. It could be provided for instance to parents who need to hire a babysitter or a nanny to take care of their children while they are away on Board duties.
  • The idea to offer a financial grant to campaigning candidates was mentioned as well.